Arizona was able to come up with a big one-point win over San Diego State on Tuesday. Read on for numerous notes and observations on why the Wildcats were able to get it done.
A late run, which included a last-second block by Nick Johnson
, preserved Arizona
's perfect record as the Wildcats defeated San Diego State
68-67 to take the Diamond Head Classic championship and improve to 12-0 on the season.
Off to its best start since the 1987-88 campaign, Arizona also concluded its out-of-conference schedule without a loss and appear to be the runaway favorites to win the Pac-12 heading into conference play.
UA received all it could handle from SDSU. The Aztecs held the lead for much of the second half, but the scrappy bunch from Arizona was able to pull off the comeback victory thanks to a couple of big performances from a pair of its senior leaders.
Kevin Parrom has been waiting since the end of the 2010-11 season to have a performance like he put forth on Tuesday night. The senior finished with 17 points – 12 coming in the second half – on 7-for-11 shooting, including 3-for-5 from long range. Parrom also added five rebounds, two assists and a steal off the bench in what turned out to be his best game since his sophomore campaign.
If he continues to provide the level of performance off the bench he put forth on Tuesday, Arizona will be as tough to beat as anyone in the nation going forward.
Solomon Hill led all scorers with 21 points and complemented his scoring output with six rebounds, three assists and a block. The senior was very assertive with the ball in his hands, which led to scoring opportunities for himself as well as the rest of his teammates.
Hill was able to break defenders down off the dribble and use his body in the paint to draw numerous fouls throughout the night.
Johnson's game-saving block also helped him overcome a poor shooting effort against the Aztecs. The sophomore reached double figures with 11 points, but he shot just 3-for-13 from the floor, including 1-for-6 from long range.
Johnson played aggressively on both ends of the floor and while he struggled shooting the ball for most of the evening, he more than made up for it with his crucial defensive stop with time winding down.
Arizona won the game despite shooting only 37.3 percent from the floor overall. The Wildcats even struggled shooting the ball from three-point land where they connected on just five out of 20 shot attempts.
UA may have shot the ball poorly for much of the evening, but the Wildcats did an admirable job of taking care of the ball and committed just eight turnovers. On the flipside, San Diego State turned the ball over 15 times, which allowed Arizona to overcome its own shortcomings and pull off the victory.
The aggressive style of play that the Wildcats bring to the table continues to reflect in the box score. While UA was out-rebounded, it was aggressive driving to the hoop and drawing fouls. Arizona concluded the contest with 27 free throw attempts – nine more than SDSU – and connected on 19 of them.
The Wildcats' defense was exceptional for much of the game. UA held the Aztecs to 43.6 percent shooting, but its defense from beyond the arc is what was most impressive.
San Diego State knocked down just four three-point shots and connected on just 23.5 of its attempts from long range. UA's smothering defense was one of the primary factors in its victory over SDSU.